Celebrating Sagetrieb


Cover for the first issue of Sagetrieb, Spring 1982

Our next publication, about which more news will soon follow, is a Festschrift for the late Burton Hatlen, guest edited by Demetres Tryphonopoulos, combining Paideuma 40 and Sagetrieb 20. The latter journal has been dormant for several years, its planned last issue left languishing when Burt fell ill; but Sagetrieb deserved a better conclusion than this mere petering out, and we are pleased that our celebration of Burt’s life and work will include a version of his last editorial project: a collection of essays on George Oppen. The Festschrift also includes an essay on Sagetrieb by Kaplan Harris, acknowledging the good work performed by the journal and the end of the era in which that work was performed.

In the coming weeks, as we await the arrival of the Festschrift, we will celebrate Sagetrieb by noting some highlights from the issues. Their tables of contents and covers can be seen at our Sagetrieb blog (link).

This celebration of Sagetrieb will be informal and improvisational, ranging freely across the run of the journal in no particular order — we’ll be pulling issues off the shelf at random, so to speak. But to get things started, here are a few choice sentences from the inaugural issue, from the section titled “The Biographer.”

Cid Corman remembering Louis Zukofsky:

Like Olson he wanted to play teacher and critic to me. And as with Olson — I balked. It has simply been a thing with me to do my own dirty work.

Fielding Dawson with respect to Charles Olson:

He wanted to be used the way he liked — with advance warning. He wanted what he wanted in the way he wanted. I bet his mom spoiled him.

Grattan Freyer, from “Montale and His Friends”:

On one occasion it was announced at the Giubbe Rosse that everyone would take the day off and go for a walk in the country. I pictured a twelve-mile hike at the very least. We walked, six or eight of us, about three-and-a-half miles out of Florence to a little country inn, where we all ate an enormous meal in the open air. The conversation en route to the inn was about what we would find to eat there, and on the way back about what we had eaten.

Freyer’s essay ends with two translations, one of Montale made with the poet’s help, a lovely version of “Eastbourne”:

“God save the King” intone the trumpets
from a pavilion erected on piles
which line the passage of the sea as it rises
obliterating footprints
of horses in the wet sand
of the shore.

Coldly a wind assails me,
but a shimmering lights up the windows
and the whiteness of mica in the rocks

BANK HOLIDAY . . . The long wave of my life
slides back
escaping, too sweetly, declining.
It grows late. Noises fall apart,
closed in softness.

They go in bath-chairs the mutilated,
accompanied by long-eared dogs,
children unspeaking, or dotards. (Perhaps
tomorrow all will seem a dream.)
And you too
will come, prisoner voice, liberated
spirit wandering,
bleeding voice, lost and given again
to my evening.

As a hotel-door revolves on its sections
— another responds with returning beam —
a merry-go-round enthralls me, which overturns
everything within its circle. My homeland!
I listening recognize your breathing,
I too stir myself and the day is thick with living.

Everything will seem in vain: even the power
which in its blinding flux brings together
the living and the dead, the trees and the breakers
and unwinds itself from you, for you. the holiday
has no pity. The band
blares out again while in the early darkness
a grace unfolds itself unarmed.

Conquering evil . . . The wheel does not rest . . .
You also knew about it, light-in-darkness.

On the burning land, whence you are
vanished at the first stroke of the bells, remains
only an enormous burning brand for what once was

Editors’ Preface for Paideuma 37

As part of our showcase of the new volume of Paideuma, here is our editors’ preface — more previews to come soon:

For this special volume of Paideuma, we go back to our roots with an eighty-fifth birthday celebration of Mary de Rachewiltz, an important member of the scholarly community that gave rise to this journal and made its continued publication possible. De Rachewiltz’s contributions to the field are substantial. In addition to her magisterial translation of the Cantos (I Canti [Mondadori, 1985]), she is the author of a beautiful memoir, Ezra Pound, Father and Teacher: Discretions (New Directions, 2005). After having long labored at Yale’s Beinecke Library, where she lent her special familiarity with her father’s work to the organization and cataloguing of its Ezra Pound Archive, she has made a permanent home for Pound scholarship at Brunnenburg Castle in the Italian South Tyrol. We are pleased to honor her here with a portfolio of documentary material edited and introduced by Richard Sieburth.

Mary de Rachewiltz’s long relationship with the NPF began in 1985 at the Ezra Pound Centennial Conference, where she sat on a panel with Hugh Kenner to give a talk entitled “Remembering Pound the Poet.” She was also part of a roundtable at the end of the conference that included Robert Creeley, Donald Davie, Allen Ginsberg, Hugh Kenner, James Laughlin, Marjorie Perloff, M.L. Rosenthal, Olga Rudge, and Walter Sutton. At the William Butler Yeats-Ezra Pound Celebration Conference in 1990, she gave a keynote address, “A Pilgrim to Erin Shrines,” and was part of a discussion group that included Kenner, Sutton, Peter Dale Scott, and Carroll Terrell. Her first contribution to an NPF publication appeared in H.D.: Woman and Poet (1986). She subsequently contributed to three special issues of Paideuma, festschrifts for Mary Barnard (1994), Carroll Terrell (1997), and James Laughlin (2002).

In her 1994 tribute to Mary Barnard, de Rachewiltz described Barnard’s Assault on Mount Helicon as “the most dignified, informative and sincere literary memoir I have ever read.” This is a statement Evelyn Haller might apply to de Rachewiltz’s own Discretions. Haller’s “Shadows on the Rock: A Book in American English Ezra Pound Gave His Daughter” is the first of four scholarly essays that follow the portfolio edited by Sieburth. A shorter version of Haller’s essay was printed in the proceedings for the 17th International Ezra Pound Conference. We are happy to include the full text here, in conjunction with Sieburth’s portfolio. The other three essays are also appropriate to this context. Sean Pryor’s “‘How Will You Know?’: Paradise, Painting, and the Writing of Ezra Pound’s Canto 3” looks at Pound directly in a reading of Canto 3 as an early attempt to “write paradise.” Jeffrey Westover and Joshua Clover look at two Poundian themes: economics and history. Westover (who, like Pryor, is appearing in Paideuma for the second time) brings fresh insight to Lorine Niedecker’s work by reading it in the context of local history. “‘My Sense of Property’s / Adrift’: Attitudes toward Land, Property, and Nation in Lorine Niedecker” juxtaposes colonial and native attitudes about ownership. Clover’s “‘A Form Adequate to History’: Toward a Renewed Marxist Poetics” closes the issue with a programmatic statement on poetry’s significance for theory. His perspective is global, with examples (Apollinaire, Frank O’Hara, Rolf Dieter Brinkmann) drawn from three stages of capitalist development.

Paideuma 38, slated for publication in 2011, includes articles by Ondrea Ackerman, Russell Brickey, Natalie Gerber, Matthew Hofer, Charles Kraszewski, and Catherine Paul, as well as an interview with Basil Bunting conducted by James Laughlin and Lawrence Pitkethly, prefaced by Richard Swigg.

—Tyler Babbie, Alison Fraser, and Benjamin Friedlander

There is also a preface by Richard Sieburth to the portfolio he edited. We will give some excerpts from that in the coming days.

To get the word out about this volume we are pleased to be able to offer it at a special discount. Paideuma subscriptions for individuals are $30 a year domestic and $40 outside the U.S. Through March readers of this blog can purchase Paideuma 37 (and our previous volume, 36 [link]) at the low price of $20 (or $30 for orders outside the U.S).

To order, please call Gail Sapiel at  207-581-3813 or send her an email at gail [dot] sapiel [at] umit [dot] maine [dot] edu.  Tell her that you read about the new issue on the blog to receive this promotional discount.

Paideuma 36 in press

Paideuma 36 is due imminently from the printer. In the next few weeks we will be posting short previews of articles included in the volume. Paideuma 36 includes work from Sarah Barnsley, Patrick Barron, Andrea Brady, Tony Brinkley and Joseph Arsenault, Kaplan Harris, Aimee Pozorski, Sean Pryor, and Robert Stark. The scope of the articles collected in the volume is wide in chronology and method, reflecting the broadened focus of Paideuma as a journal of modern and contemporary poetry and poetics. Stay tuned for a preview of Brady’s “Making Use of this Pain: The John Wieners Archives.”

Paideuma Sighting

Nice to see an old issue of Paideuma cited by John Latta, one of our favorite bloggers — and a true library cormorant. The citation comes in a post titled “Pound au fond,” a meditation on Alice Steiner Amdur’s The Poetry of Ezra Pound (1936), a Radcliffe honors thesis published by Harvard when Amdur was 21 years old. Pound roasted the book in a letter to William Carlos Williams. Latta quotes that letter in full; he also digs out Pound’s scalding letter to Amdur, which was published in Paideuma 21.1-2 (1992).

The Paideuma text comes in two forms: a reproduction of the original typescript, and a transcript. There is also an introduction by Sebastian D. G. Knowles. To entice other library cormorants, here is an excerpt from that introduction:

In 1936, Alice Steiner Amdur completed her undergraduate thesis at Radcliffe College on The Poetry of Ezra Pound. Harvard University Press published the thesis as number 5 in a series of Radcliffe Honors Theses in English. This was of course a great honor, and the 21 year-old student sent a copy to William Carlos Williams, who liked it very much, and to Ezra Pound, who did not. …

The thesis begins as a measured appraisal of Pound’s early poetry. Short biographical chapters take the reader through the early influences of America, Provençe, and London, followed by a long and well-considered chapter on Imagism. … It is at the end of this chapter that Amdur begins to take issue with the poetry of Ezra Pound. The Cantos, she says, are “largely obscure or obscene,” the work of a “roaring madman.” The Hell Cantos, numbers 14 and 15, are neither “good poetry nor even — alas — good propaganda.” Cantos 8 through 11 are “just more talk,” “at once bewildering and disappointing.” Cantos 31 to 41 are ‘very poor.”

Reading the second half of Amdur’s thesis, one wonders what could have possibly possessed her to send Ezra Pound a copy. There is worse: Amdur compares Pound unfavorably with Eliot. … “Pound is vivid enough, but when we compare his laboriously accumulated filth with Eliot’s stark ‘That corpse you planted last year in the garden,’ we see the difference between a mind that hates and abuses and a mind that is horrified and can symbolize its horror in one unforegettable image.” Amdur’s point is well-taken by anyone who isn’t Pound.

The thesis ends, “Pound entered the service of English letters when the grate was cold. He stirred up the embers of poetry and kindled a flame that has lasted twenty years. If he seems outmoded now it is because the fire no longer needs his care, and he has run off to into the night after will-o’-the wisps.” … Ezra Pound hated that last sentence, and hated the whole thesis. It is as if Little red Riding Hood had thrown an incendiary bomb into grandmother’s house.

Pound takes six pages to lose his temper. On page 1 Amdur’s preface is “rather silly,” by page 4 she is a “Poor damn bleating little AMERICAN she sheep,” by the end Pound explodes with “IDIOT IDIOT” and “can you read?” Understanding its author to be a prisoner of the “Haaaavud” system, pound attacks the thesis as a by-product of the work of “Mathewson, “the bleating Untermud,” and the rest of the “beanery.” (Actually, only Matthiessen was at Harvard; R. P. Blackmur, though living in Boston, was a free-lance critic at the time, as was Louis Untermeyer. …) Pound reads Amdur’s thesis as he writes; his letter becomes an index, annotation by vitriolic annotation, to his disgust with university scholarship.

Does that whet your interest? The issue is still available for sale ($x.xx plus shipping; ordering info here).

Knowles, by the way, also prepared (with Scott A. Leonard) the T. S. Eliot bibliography published by the NPF as volume 2 of T. S. Eliot: Man and Poet (1992).

Paideuma 35.3


Poetics Forum

Barrett Watten, “Faultlines in Poetics: Culture / Politics / Economics / Generation”

Maria Damon, “Two Modernist Precursors in Cultural Studies and Poetics: (How) Can They Help Us Now?”

George Hartley, “Under the Sign of Paideuma: Scary Ideograms & The New Fascisms”

Joel Nickels, “The Art of Interruption: William Carlos Williams and New Materialist Poetics”

Sarah Ruddy, “‘Bad Timing’ and Language Poetry in Benjamin Friedlander’s Simulcast


Morgan Myers, “Ezra Pound Me Fecit: Memorial Object and Autonomous Poem in The Cantos

Steve Pinkerton, “Profaning the Communion Table: Mina Loy and the Modernist Poetics of Blasphemy”

Bruce Holsapple, “On Whalen’s Use of Voice”


Jane Augustine (Analyzing Freud: The Letters of H.D., Bryher and Their Circle, ed. Susan Stanford Friedman; and Rachel Connor, H.D. and the Image)

Richard L. Blevins (Michael Heller, Uncertain Poetries)

Patricia Cockram (Ira B. Nadel, Ezra Pound: A Literary Life; and Ezra Pound, Early Writings: Poems and Prose, ed. Ira B. Nadel)

Leon Surette (Mary de Rachewiltz, Ezra Pound, Father and Teacher: Discretions; and Ezra Pound, The Spirit of Romance)

The cover features a handwritten page from The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen (Wesleyan UP, 2007).

With the conclusion of volume 35 Paideuma moves to a biannual format, though our plan for the foreseeable future is to publish double issues only. The once-a-year format is better suited to our present staffing situation and should help us maintain a regular production schedule. Stay tuned for news about volumes 36 and 37.